MARIPOSA COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — A Mariposa County widower is demanding transparency and action from the Turlock Nursing and Rehabilitation Center after his wife recently died of COVID-19.
The skilled nursing facility has had a growing number of positive COVID-19 cases among staff members and residents. To date, the troubled facility has had at least 16 residents die.
The serene days that Jack Wilmeth had once shared with his 78-year-old wife, Janet, are now even quieter at their Mariposa County home.
“Other than initial shock, I’m getting through it,” Jack told FOX40.
Jack said he was also infected and is now out of quarantine.
The 75-year-old said Janet was first admitted to the Turlock Nursing and Rehabilitation Center March 28. On April 18, he got a call from the staff that she was being sent home but he claimed they did not say why.
“Unable to talk to her or see or anything because they had everything buttoned up, everywhere,” Jack said.
Then a call the next day from the center about their first positive COVID-19 case and Jack said they had no answers for him.
“You’re gonna get us tested? You gonna do something about it?” Jack recalled the conversation going. “‘Well, she’s not in our care so it’s not our problem. Literally, it’s not our problem.’ That was that for them.”
Frustrated, he said he left them with more critique.
“Well, you got rid of her just in time, didn’t you?” he said.
Jack said he picked up his wife a couple of days later.
“Her condition was going downhill fast enough that I don’t think at that point that she would have survived,” he explained.
Around a week later, Janet was unresponsive and admitted to Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock. That’s when she tested positive for COVID-19.
Days later, she was moved into hospice care, all while Jack himself was battling the virus.
“I was home full-time taking care of myself,” he said. “I was able to get through.”
He said in his wife’s final moments, a nurse held up the phone to her ear so she could speak to her son and her husband one last time.
“After that, she responded once and she passed,” Jack said.
The center has said in a press release that infected patients would be separated.
Jack said he now worries about the patients who are still there.
“I have a great deal of concern just because the closeness of the quarters,” he told FOX40.
Jack said he believes the center’s staff needs to take more action to fulfill their moral obligation.
“By law, they’re not required to test anybody that’s left and they’re not required to test everybody there,” Jack said. “But there’s a great difference between law and right.”
Jack also said the center needs to test its residents and staff often. FOX40 reached out to Covenant Care Friday afternoon with Jack’s concerns and has yet to hear back.